International Process Service Considerations

International process service is complex. You don’t just have local, state, and federal laws and practices to contend with – you have to deal with the nuances of different countries and their legal code, as well as international treaties to contend with. To successfully complete process service requires significant professional experience and insight. 

Let’s take a closer look at some of the factors that impact how international process service can play out.  

Is the receiving country a member of an international judicial convention? 

There are two main treaties that govern international process service: the Hague Service Convention and the Inter-American Service Convention. Not all countries recognize these treaties, so it’s important to be well-versed in who participates. 

Both treaties are considered formal service based on their legal requirements. However, timelines can differ significantly between the two conventions. In countries that are signatories to the Hague Service Treaty, process service typically takes between three to four months. 

On the other hand, the Inter-American Service Convention, which allows for service in participating North and South American countries that are NOT part of the Hague Service Convention, the timeline is typically between six to eight months. 

What about countries that aren’t part of either treaty? In these situations, you can attempt service of process through Letters Rogatory. This approach places a formal request to allow service within that country. Letters Rogatory is a time-consuming avenue, though – it can take between six months to more than a year to complete. 

Informal Methods of International Process Service

Because formal methods of service can take months, alternative methods are sometimes the best course of action. This can include service via an agent or through the mail. If you have enough information to go on, like a known address or whereabouts, this approach can be completed quickly, sometimes within days or weeks. 

While a short timeline is appealing, remember that many countries may not recognize these methods and may not uphold any judgments that were made in foreign courts. 

Both the Hague Service Convention and Inter-American Service Convention do allow informal process service in some cases, but individual countries may still not uphold foreign judgements or only recognize portions of either treaty. Being aware of the rules established by the original treaty and any modifications made by an individual country help ensure your documentation is actually delivered and recognized by the court system. 

With that in mind, if you need a judge to uphold the rulings made in court proceedings, it is best to rely on formal service of process procedures. 

Translating Legal Documentation for International Service

Some countries require all legal documentation to be translated into their official language to complete the process of service. Failure to translate documents can result in your request being ignored or denied. Given that international process service is already expensive, starting over a costly and time-consuming mistake. 

When initiating an international process of service, a qualified and experienced process server is an invaluable part of your legal team. DRG Legal has decades of experience, and has successfully served individuals and companies  in every country in the world, including countries outside the standard organizing treaties. Reach out to us today to simplify this complex process


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